Union Cabinet approves more power and funds to NE autonomous councils
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the grant of more power and funds to 10 autonomous councils in the northeastern region. The most important part of these amendments is that these will significantly improve the financial resources and administrative powers of the Autonomous District Councils of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, fulfilling long-standing aspirations of the tribal population in these northeastern states.
The Finance Commission will be mandated to recommend devolution of the financial resources to them, stated an official statement.
The amendment also provides for the transfer of additional 30 subjects including Public Works Department, Forests, Public Health Engineering, Health & Family Welfare, Urban Development and Food & Civil Supply to Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council (KAATC) and Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council in Assam.
The proposed amendments provide for elected village municipal councils, ensuring democracy at the grassroots level.
The village councils will be empowered to prepare plans for economic development and social justice including those related to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries and social forestry.
At least one-third of the seats will be reserved for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura and at least two of the nominated members in all autonomous councils in the North East Sixth Schedule areas resulting in the empowerment of women.
There will be State Election Commissions for holding elections to the autonomous councils, village and municipal councils in the areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura.
There will be a provision for anti-defection too.
Meghalaya has for the time being kept out of the purview of the provision for the elected village and municipal councils and one-third reservations for women.
The amendments will fulfill the commitments made under tripartite Memorandum of Settlements signed by Government of India, governments of Assam and Meghalaya, United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), Dima Halam Daogah (DHD) and Achik National Volunteers’ Council (ANVC).
The amendments propose to rename the existing autonomous councils as Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council (KAATC), Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council (DHATC), Garo Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (GHATC), Khasi Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (KHATC), Jaintia Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (JHATC) and Tripura Tribal Area Autonomous Territorial Council (TTAATC) as the present jurisdiction of these councils extend to more than one districts.
There will also be an increase in seats in KAATC (from 30 to 50 seats), DHATC (30 to 40 seats), GHATC (30 to 42), KHATC (30 to 40) and JHATC (30 to 34).